Aug 5, 2008 TZ Tanzania

I never thought I would move to Tanzania to learn about Bengali culture, but then again I never thought I’d eat octopus for dinner so sometimes one must adjust expectations.  How have I happened to find myself sitting in an office shared by one Bengali woman, one Tanzanian woman, and me?  Such is life at BRAC Tanzania’s country office. 

BRAC Tanzania is one of the international legs of the Bengali NGO BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee).  Started in 1972, BRAC has grown to be the largest NGO in the world and employs over...

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Aug 4, 2008 CM Cameroon

On Friday, three members of the GHAPE office went to the funeral of one of our members, Bih Josopha. She was 48 years old and left eight children behind, four of whom are under the age of 14. The daughter had come to the office to inform us of her passing on Thursday, immediately after it occurred, and we decided which office members would go and pay dues. For GHAPE members, attendance at a fellow member’s funeral is compulsory, punishable by a fine. Some of the members were a little discontented when the burial was

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Aug 1, 2008 GT Guatemala

As my fellowship continues to fly by, I’ve had many, many positive experiences, and really only one low point, which I’ll get to after reporting a little on my latest work. I’ve now been at FAPE for two weeks and it’s been fascinating to see the similarities and differences between the two organizations I’ve had the privilege of working with. FAPE is a much smaller organization than Friendship Bridge and FB has access to many more resources, as they are based out of Colorado and therefore have various sources of U.S. support. FAPE is a...

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Aug 1, 2008 GT Guatemala

My First week in Guatemala and already very impressed! Don’t know where to start because it seems I am here already a while when counting the many adventures I already had!

My long flight from Europe through several US places brought me to Guatemala City in the evening. I was picked up from the airport by a very friendly man called Viktor who brought this exhausted woman to the hostel for me a lovely horizontal rest after being wake 24 hours! The next day the mini-van brought me to Antigua where I had 2 hours to wonder around before leaving to Panajachel. Antigua is a beautiful...

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Aug 1, 2008 KE Kenya

This past week Opportunity International-Wedco was able to finally report its loan repayments on Kiva and to its lenders (after pausing during the post-election crisis). Now I can jump into coordinating visits to do journal updates. Special thanks to the sick excel skills of my MPM, Ben Elberger.

I wanted to share a quick funny story from my travels. Many of the fellows have mentioned the various forms of transportation that we get to take around our locations. In Kenya, matatu, tuk-tuk, and boda-boda’s are the transportation staples. Last week I was heading home after leaving...

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Jul 31, 2008 NG Nigeria

There are a number of things here in Nigeria that are just different enough to bring laughter and puzzlement to my days…

“Oyibo” – Wherever I go, people call out “Oyibo.”  Naturally, I initially thought this meant “hello” or served as some sort of greeting.  I suppose it is a greeting of sorts, but literally means “white person.”  It isn’t an insult, just a way to get my attention and a wave.  Generally oyibos remain in Lagos, the business capital, or Port Harcourt, where the oil flows.  I’ve seen two other oyibos in my first month here in Benin City – not many.  I’m certainly an...

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Jul 28, 2008 KH Cambodia

Part of the reason I signed up for the Kiva Fellowship was to see how microfinance actually works on the ground. You can read all the books on microfinance, but that couldn’t make up for never seeing it in action with your own eyes. After getting an understanding of AMK’s operations from their nice air-conditioned central office (where I just finished making them an Excel macro to keep better track of their Kiva loans), I knew I had to see the loan officer in action to really understand the pros and cons of microfinance.

Saphanith, Elena and I stopped by Au Village...

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Jul 27, 2008 KH Cambodia

To see a complete list of MAXIMA’s clients who live in rural areas such as this one, please click here.

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Jul 27, 2008 UG Uganda

Yesterday I was not in a fight, but rather saw my first fight in Uganda. This fight was over a woman – me. However, it was not between jealous lovers. Rather, the fight was between two taxi drivers vying for my fare.

In Kampala, if one doesn’t have a car or is too scared to drive (me), there are two other forms of transportation to get around. One option is to take a boda-boda which is a motorcycle. The other option is to take a matatu which is a shared van that is licensed to carry 14 people, but usually has upwards of 16 people crammed...

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Jul 25, 2008 GH Ghana

Microcredit undoubtedly represents a creative and original response to poverty. But I think that somewhere along the way, the innovativeness of the idea seems to have translated into an expectation of novelty and ingenuity for all “small-scale entrepreneurs.” I was reminded of this recently while reading a report published by IBM that described microcredit recipients as “creative” and “entrepreneurial.” While I’m certainly no expert on the subject, my time in the field has reinforced my belief that microloans do not generally enable budding entrepreneurs to realize innovative business...

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